#MeToo sparks a new focus on the ‘Sex Talk’ with your teens

In our modern world of ‘Fingertip’ media access our teens are seeing the #MeToo movement bring worldwide awareness to sexually related harms. They are hearing about cases of Child Sexual Abuse & Human Trafficking almost daily. Your daughters & sons are reading the headlines, and talking amongst themselves, but do they fully understand how these types of behaviors happen? Do they really understand what human trafficking is or how to help someone they know who is being harmed or abused, shared or exploited; trapped in silence and shame about their worst fears?

Hopefully, you will read this article, have your teen read it, and then have a very open conversation about it so they absorb what is and is not appropriate behavior in our evolving laws and standards of how we value another human life. Hopefully, if you have a high school student you are encouraging them to beware of the online predators, but also to beware of those closest to them; approx 95% of these harms are committed by someone they depend on for survival or those in their closest circle.

Have you had that very real talk about the changes in acceptable interpersonal relationship behavior?

Keep in mind; Law mandates NO PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 18 CAN CONSENT TO SEXUAL INTERACTIONS!!! https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/2422 (Federal mandate, but each state is different, most 16 years or older; some permit 12 if the other person is no more than 4 years older) Know and teach your teen the age of consent and the meaning of consent so they can understand and help a close friend in the cloudy waters of teen behavior.

Do you know that if a boyfriend or girlfriend intimidates, manipulates, or forces you to engage in sexual activity with another person, that it is Human Trafficking, ‘Pimping’ and could lead to some serious legal ramifications?

Does your son know that even when a girl is enticing him to engage in a sexual act, then gets angry because he breaks up with her or because it’s a one time thing; does your son realize he can be accused of a sexual offense, and if convicted (regardless of age) could be sent to prison and be a Registered Sex Offender for the rest of their lives? Yes, your son or daughter, could find their lives completely destroyed for a behavior pushed through mainstream society and media since the beginning of mankind himself?

Does your daughter know that when she sends that nude or revealing photo of herself to someone, that she could be charged with pornography or enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity?

Do you realize that if you rush to file a legal complaint when your teen comes to you with an admission of sexual harm or harassment, that you have to be able to talk about the details; both their behavior and the person they are accusing. You need to ensure that it wasn’t a mutual act gone badly between two young human beings. If you do not talk about the details before charges are brought against all those who fail to follow up or respond the right way after engaging in what they believe is mutually equal sexual activity; it could lead to an innocent young person’s life being destroyed over a misunderstanding or a single non-harming decision. Confirm the facts before you contact the police.

Perhaps it was the other person’s first time? Perhaps your teen really did lead the other person to believe they were older than they are, or that they mutually wanted the interaction to occur? I know how difficult that is to admit because I raised two daughters and a son. I’ve raised the teens who have been sexually influenced as young children, lived in a home of dysfunction; yet no one ever talked about it or provided any services, or support to rebuild their sense of value and understanding of sexual behaviors. I know because I tried more than once to get them help.

I know well how living inside a challenging family lifestyle or a directly harming environment can lead to looking for love and respect in all the wrong ways. None of us is perfect. Teens don’t always understand the violence and harm inside schools, on their streets, shared across social media, and our mainstream media. They get pressured or engage in alcohol, dangerous substances, and hormonal behaviors. If we are going to hold them accountable then give them the knowledge. Help them through the muddy, confusing journey of teenage years, especially in a society that has lived and learned by way of what we say today is absolutely unacceptable. Keep in mind we’ve pretty much created the ‘HOOKUP’ culture since the 90’s and rap music promoted women and girls as ‘HOES’. Now we give them ‘FINGERTIP’ access to porn, violence, hookup sites, and multimedia influences and simply expect them to know appropriate behaviors. However, while politicians are updating laws and enforcing prosecutions, no one is having open conversations about how it is meant to change what they’ve been taught is ‘normal’.

As a survivor of child sex trafficking in a Southern Illinois community; one who lived through a decade of my parents brute violence, rape, neglect, and dismissal of evil that affected my very survival. It created a learned behavior of tolerance and a distorted perception of any sense of personal value. It’s taken years of rebuilding, researching, and constant daily efforts to erase the person they created. Today I am a warrior for protection of our children and prosecution of these grievous offenses. However, if we are not living by the example and educating our kids about what it means for them, then we are going to see an entire generation of people prosecuted and registered sex offenders.

We have to address the challenges of our own human influences and behaviors that we represent to our youth and young children every day. We have to be strong enough to discuss it with them so that if their life is safe, they will know what to do when their friend is being harmed or has had a bad experience touch their lives. We have to give them the knowledge and the tools to watch out for the kids around them; siblings, cousins, neighbors, friends. We have to give them the example to create a more equal, safe, and just society because they are the leaders of tomorrow. They will live in the aftermath of our decisions and changes that we apply today. It is their world now, so it’s time to have those real conversations to empower them and inspire the future we are paving the way for today. 

As adults, we should be asking schools, hospitals, law enforcement, social services, parents, community leaders, and neighbors to help our kids through all these changing views and policies. Remember, throughout centuries, and especially since the creation of music videos & internet; WE have raised our children with specific gender and sexual behaviors. Now with the swipe of a pen, we expect them to know all of those changes and what is appropriate behavior. We expect them to behave and know better regardless of what someone might be doing to THEM or what THEIR home life represents.

How are they going to be the way of the future if their life is being twisted up by some type of inappropriate or misguided behavior? Sadly, young girls are still being taught, either by actions or society, that their only value is in their sexuality and not because they are intelligent, kind and amazing individuals. Kudos to Justin Timberlake for making a choice to change his music style because he doesn’t want his son to grow up with a view of women even his music created.

What conversations will you have with your friends about this article? What kind of conversations will you have with your kids? How are our changing views in society and the updates in our laws influencing your life and the lives of our youth; the lives of success and failure we want them to give their children?

It’s time to have that talk in a whole new way!!!

 

Butterfly Dreams – HEALING OUR PAST TO CLAIM THEIR FUTURE!!!

If you have questions about this article, please contact me personally

trish@butterflydreamsalliance.org

Join the Butterfly Dreams Leadership Teens!!!

Join us for Survivors World support group!!

Thanks for reading 🙂 

 

Trish

www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

www.facebook.com/butterflydreamsalliance

Advertisements

Helping officers understand why victims stay or deny harm inside their home.

VPC Seminar – Trauma Informed Care – Training Sheriffs from South Central Illinois
May 4th, 2017

Why do victims stay? Why do they deny? – Hopefully, in this seminar, you’re able to find something to help you. The moment you walk through that door, what do you need and how can you better assist and understand the dynamics of what this person or family is going through; the fear of staying and what will happen if they leave. These calls are the most dangerous for you because you don’t really know just how bad it might be inside this home.

As a survivor, I’m here to share my experiences in hopes of providing some insight as to what happens to the victims long before you’re ever called to the scene.

As an advocate and mentor I want to share this, but be aware some of it might truly offend you. It’s only to help you understand some of the mentality of the persons you are being called to assist.

I’ve learned about the how & why of my choices in these past 10 years. Tragically like millions it was set in motion by the early distortions and beliefs created by my mother & stepfather. They didn’t raise a child, they terrorized and enslaved to create The Perfect Subservient Victim

My childhood was filled with some of the most grievous actions and terror you could imagine. However, the terror is still the single most contributing factor. My mind still cannot let go of the 24/7 threat of harm, which had been clearly stated by my stepfather within the first few weeks of meeting him. There is no doubt if I didn’t do exactly as instructed all those years, I would’ve died and absolutely no one would’ve cared.

I was his terrorized victim at five when he first threw me on the couch and violently molested me in front of my brother. Then he shoved me to the ground, grabbed a handful of my hair and said; ‘If you say a word, your mom will be angry and you will be taken away’.

I was his kidnapped victim at nine when he called me inside from playing with my brother and sister. He pointed to their bedroom, where I was told to take off my clothes and get into bed with him. As I lay there I could hear the kids still playing outside, but the steel cold in his eyes let me know I had better not make a sound. I don’t know how long it lasted, but Mother walked in when he was trying to put his thing in me; she didn’t do anything. In fact, she yelled at me. He shoved me off of the bed and she growled for me to get to my room. That’s where I had to stay for the night, hungry, alone, scared my mother would send me away. He knew from that moment he could get away with anything. She honestly did not care what he did to me or how he used me.Just two years later I became his actual slave when she purchased him a little brass bell, which no one else in our house was expected to answer but me, even if they were sitting right in front of him.

For twelve long terrorizing years, almost every day was haunted by some act, threat, order or extreme sexual fear. He was very loving towards my mother, never raising his voice to her, and rarely ever intimidating my siblings. She ran the dynamics of our home and could have stopped his actions at any time, but she chose to become part of them and train me to be her family’s caregiver, cook, and housemaid.

I was his target and he made sure I acted as his slave; he would ring his bell for a glass of tea or to begin my night of terror. I grew up without any sense of personal identity, only serving him and all the men and boys he brought over to our house for the late night private parties. He sold ‘special’ time with me at the small local bars, where Mother worked and all their friends hung out. He and Mother took me on their dates; dinner and then the bar for dancing. He would find random men and bring them to our table. At 12 I was drinking whiskey & 7up, so it could easily be passed to Mother. They would encourage me to drink, allow the men to flirt, dance, rub or even take this little girl out to their car.

The use of weapons became so common for me, that by 18 I stood in front of one such threat; ‘Go ahead, do it’. Sometimes I really wished he’d pulled the trigger. My stepfather first threatened me when I was 9 yrs old angry over some mess I hadn’t cleaned up. He pulled out his 12guage, put the shells in it, held it an inch from my face, cocked it, and said; “You are just useless and ugly’. Just a few years later he used the barrel to rape me as he gripped his hand over my mouth to hold me in terror. I could feel my insides ripping apart. I was hoping my brother or sister would walk up the stairs; they were watching our favorite television program just at the bottom of the stairs. He did it to silence me, to take my voice away and keep me from ever objecting against him ever again. I had begged my mother to make him stop coming into my room and watching me shower all the time, but sadly no matter what I did, how many times I ran away; she always brought me back and nothing ever changed -I was simply told if I said anything to anyone ever again, he would blow my head off from the inside out.

They taught me that none of my fear mattered, I wasn’t allowed to cry; I wasn’t allowed to scream; regardless of how much pain he caused. Over the years the parties began including pornography, marijuana, and instructions for whose lap I should sit on or who I should let touch me. When He called at 10pm on Friday night, Mother walked into her bedroom, looking back she said; ‘Have fun’. The later in the morning it got, I was told who was allowed to take me out to the camper on the back of his pick-up. When I got back in the house, most everyone had left, so I was told to clean up the mess. When I wanted to lay down; he came in wanting to hear all the dirty details of my night. If I didn’t respond quietly and exactly how he needed in that moment, he would grab my throat and start squeezing tight, then reach inside my panties.

 

His threats and beatings were constant, sudden and relentless. As much as our neighbors whispered, as much as the men talked about the ‘child whore’, as much as the classmates pointed and shamed; still nothing ever seemed to affect my mother, my siblings, our neighbors, or any of the many family friends who had seen or who had been privy to what happened.

I was beaten on the street and dragged across the road by my hair in the middle of the day. I was cursed and shamed by my mother, my brother, classmates, teachers, family friends and neighbors. They had a special name for me, they talked about my looks; my rotting skin, my rotting teeth, my weight, even how lazy I was not to get my homework done.

I gave up trying to bathe around 12 yrs old; after he had raped me over the vanity one night and then used his leather strap to beat me as he threw me onto a pile of dirty laundry. For the next five years I barely wiped off with a wash clothe, so the dirt caked around my wrists, ankles, knees. I began to break out in this rash which I scratched at each night as I lay there waiting for him to come stalking in like a lion after his prey. He would creep in silently, then suddenly his hand would grasp over my mouth and he held me there, not able to make a sound as my little sister slept right next to me.

Around 13/14 I rarely smiled, as shame and fear needed to cover up the four broken black fanged front teeth. I was never given a toothbrush or toothpaste, never taken to a dentist or taught how to care for myself at all. I actually tried using rolled up little pieces of bread to use as fillings but there was just no base of the tooth to hold them in place.

The kids at school mocked and whispered, teachers avoided contact, and the neighbors and local police just talked about what an evil man my stepfather was and how mean he got on the whiskey, but not a single person ever asked me if I was alright or if I needed some kind of help. I was trapped to live with them, she was my mother and they hadn’t permitted any contact with my father or his family since they got married. There was no place I could hide and no way to escape what was my brutal early life.

The child who walked inside the shell of my body felt everything but had to bury it all and not shed a tear no matter how afraid or how bad the pain. Drugs and alcohol were a major part of how he got me to interact and entice the other boys and men; it became my coping skill. A way for me to get through my life; I could empty myself of the pain and pretend to be ‘normal’.

At 17 my stepfather talked of putting me on a country lot by myself where he could have his own key and bring his ‘buddies’ out to party anytime he wanted. I knew what he wanted to do and I knew I had to get out. My escape came in the form of a 25 yr old man who’d recently split with his longtime girlfriend- within weeks I left my parents with a determination never to return.

Lance was my first love but he was not at all safe. His manipulation started early, to keep me inside without any friends or ability to associate unless he was right there. He constantly got angry over how I looked and my face was smashed against the mirror; ‘You are so ugly, look at you. You’re lucky I let you live here’. He locked me inside the 2nd floor apartment while he was gone to work, sometimes tieing me up and leaving me there through the night. Other times he would come home drunk and yank me out of bed by my hair, drag me to the bathroom and try to drown me in the tub of running water. He beat me beyond my own recognition and threw me around like a rag doll. My head was smashed into every solid surface you could imagine, including a huge tree slab stored on the bedroom floor. We lived above a hair salon, but it didn’t stop or change the time of day or the level of rage that exploded in our home. His family and friends witnessed times he strangled me or through me against the wall. Often they said – You shouldn’t get him so upset’. Well, I was sleeping when he woke me tapping my forehead with a shotgun, then holding me cornered and naked at three in the morning; no way to escape, no way to call for help, no one who would care if I did. I hadn’t done anything, and he always came back with a tearful apology.

I stayed for two years, despite all he did, because I didn’t want to go back to my parents and I just didn’t know what else I would do. I wasn’t allowed to work or have my own money, so I was completely at his mercy for the most basic needs. Unfortunately, it was meant going back as an adult; protecting myself as best I could or die. My stepfather wasn’t able to attack me as he once did, but he constantly intimidated me every chance he got until I was 40 years old.

The next abuser became my husband and father of my children; we were in love and he seemed perfect, but then we got his orders to go to England. He wasn’t much of a physical abuser, he was an emotional and mental manipulator. He made sure that I always remembered how grateful I should be that someone like him actually wanted to be with me. He constantly let me know that I would never be good enough and I was nothing more than his own private whore, that was the pillow talk in our bedroom. My heart longed for love and I had done everything I could to meet his ambitious military expectations of home and family; although I didn’t have much of an example to go from. I could only go with my idea of how I should be and the person I felt I was inside; the mother I wanted to be for my children. Still, the perfect subservient victim never objected and cried silently in her pillow wondering why she was always so alone and never worthy of anyone’s true kindness.

Because we had three kids together I wanted this family and marriage to work. He had many good qualities, even encouraged me to finish school; I stayed. After 4 years abroad, separation, my first nervous breakdown and failed suicide attempt; suddenly I get a call at work and our third child; he had packed up everything we owned and ran away with my children while I was at work. His sole purpose for taking them; because it was the only thing he could do that would truly hurt me. It crushed me

After picking myself up and getting a little bit of money; I took the only basket of clothing he’d left me and rented a Uhaul to get to Pennsylvania, chasing him down with a determination to get my children back. Arriving in an area, I’d never been in before, completely alone, with a total of 35.00 in my pocket. It took a lot of hard work but I built a life there and started to feel that I could actually survive and at least be able to see my kids. I fought him and his rich family constantly for any contact and then I started seeing bruises and bloody noses. He was hitting them but had them believing if they hadn’t done this or that, then they wouldn’t have gotten hit. Each time I saw them, they were changing; not my happy children any longer, but sad and afraid. I did not know who to turn to or where to go, I didn’t want to call the police on him and I didn’t actually see what had happened; I continued to fight; he ran again before they would come back to live with me their innocence and childhood were completely erased.

It only took six months after losing my children, moving to a new area, feeling alone and fighting to see them; that I quickly fell for my next abuser. I should have expected it when things began to change just two months into the relationship. During an argument, he grabbed me around the throat and threw me to the floor. As he was squeezing harder around my neck all I could think of was – Here we go again – Just kill me and get it over with- I was 28 yrs old. A part of me felt I deserved what I was getting because of the pain my kids were going through and somehow I had caused their dad to explode on them, run with them. I felt I deserved it because that’s how it had always been and every person I had ever had contact with had attacked me in some form. ‘Why should this be any different’. It progressed slowly; he would threaten to leave me alone. Then he would slam my head against a wall every couple of days, then bash my back over a hot stove or the bannister outside of my children’s bedrooms.

He got along great with my kids, he played with them, talked to them, even asked his father to purchase us a house when they came to live with us. When he was good he was fabulous, but when the alcohol and the behavior he watched in his father erupted during dinner at least two or three times a week; I was such a perfectly trained victim that I tolerated it all and never called for help. I calmed my children time and again; that bloody lip is nothing; that bruised up eye is nothing. I didn’t realize the deep sense of fear his violence towards me was causing inside my children. We are still working to heal their wounds and their memories of the threats and the violence they watched explode over and over again; the trauma and the fear that caused them to hide in the closets and bury themselves in the covers at night.

I’ll never forget how hard it was to leave him; to take what little possessions I could and walk out the door to find a place that my children and I could live. They needed to stay in the same school system. They needed their friends and I needed to find a job that paid enough to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. I didn’t have but one close friend, and thankfully she was there completely those first few months, but then it was just us and I had to keep us going. My life skills were pretty distorted and the injuries Matthew had left me with still seriously impact simple daily living today, in fact, they’ve gotten much worse. To say the least, I was a shattered soul with many wounds I had to ignore because it was simply about surviving and giving my kids a SAFE NORMAL LIFE.

This is a horribly frightening situation to be in and takes great courage to make that final choice to leave, to gather what little you can and try to start over without the slightest clue where to turn for help. Hopefully, they make that choice to never accept another act of harm against them or that dreaded fear to invade their children’s lives.

Most often family and neighbors will not make a call for help until it’s too late and someone is seriously injured or maybe killed. By the time you receive a call the victim, be they child, man or woman; will be terrified of what happens if they actually say something or you take this person away. Where will they go and how will they ever be able to take care of themselves, their children, or even their pet? What happens when he/she gets out of jail? How violent, threatening, stalking and maybe murderess might they become?

A child has no idea about walking through the system or even surviving without their parents; they’ve probably heard the threats, the verbal control and the dominance that is their environment for years before you ever see them. More than likely they might be having behavioral outbursts at school or when playing with other kids. Chances are they don’t realize it’s actually wrong, they are simply always afraid and have no clue how to associate in the typical social setting.

An adult probably has some kind of history in either watching violence and control, addiction or erupting mental illness in their lived chaotic or maybe terroristic childhood experiences. Maybe they have learned or been manipulated and broken down piece by piece by the person they actually fell in love with, keeping them in this quietly controlled behavioral pattern since early on in their relationship. We might never know just how extreme the threats and mental distortions are before an outsider finally gets involved.

Changing means changing everything that is ‘normal’, the learned acceptance of these offenses. Change will have to involve a great many life skills with a strong supportive network. It will have to include everyone; our friends, neighbors, schools, medical providers, and our law enforcement. Change is something we have to begin with a single first step. As officers, you might be the first one to see the control and fear before it becomes a deadly situation or a lifetime behavior.

I’m so glad to see all the work being done to educate and provide help in ways that we have not done throughout human history. The VPC has been crucial in helping me to stay involved and stay informed; to trust myself and my voice in helping others see just how trained in this tolerance of harm we have become and all that circles inside these types of homes with economic distress, addiction, and distorted behavioral beliefs. The end of this year makes twenty years since I first took that step to end any type of harm to invade our lives again, and even though I’ve worked through the worst of the panic and trauma; a part of me and the reflection I see in that vanity mirror – still carries that deep sense of fear inside.

You can help them believe that no matter what has been happening or what their abuser has told them; no matter what they might believe is easier to handle -this is not a place for any person or child to endure. This causes a lifetime of trauma and learned tolerances, a sense of shame, and a desperate need to bury our pain; maybe even die.

You can help them believe people will care, that they don’t have to do this alone. There are organizations and advocates who will help them, but it’s not an easy path to go through. This learned behavior of accepting harm, or committing harm, is the most dangerous place in the world for them. It might be a challenging path, but they need to believe they can survive; live a life without harm or threat of harm.

For me, it’s been a life filled with trauma & terror leaving me permanently injured. Now regardless of how happy, SAFE, and loved I am today, there are many lasting effects from those horrifying and terrorizing 37 years of rape, violence, trafficking, and the never-ending sense of fear. These wounds, the friends & colleagues I’ve made these last seven years; they’ve all inspired a strong voice and spirit for the wellbeing of others, a right to be safe. There are many things I’m still repairing within myself, including the distorted and negative identity. For every victim you may be called to help, please remember a positive first response from you could be the very beginning of a new way of life for them.

In ‘the life’ – survive vs. suicide

As Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, I’d say there was a much larger presence of those focused on this issue and those others which can be the beginning steps to trafficking. I’d like to remind everyone that for those who have or are trying to survive the influence human trafficking has left on their sense of personal value and the survival behaviors learned while you are trapped.

Human beings, like other animals, adapt to their surroundings. Our inner most sense is that of survival itself. So let me ask this; ‘When you are so engulfed by constant explosive and almost deadly violence wouldn’t you become quite submissive to survive? How long do you think you could hang on? How bad would it be when you started praying for them to kill you and end your misery? You survive the best you possibly can, but if there is no sign of help or hope, you pray they kill you so you are free!!

This is the life you learn to endure and the behaviors of the human being will naturally adapt to keep you alive. Let me assure you; those who do survive rarely just walk the door of trafficking and live life like what is needed to adapt in ‘normal’ everyday neighborhoods. Without residential recovery services like those provided by Eden’s Glory & Grounds of Grace, among others; going from ‘The Life’ to a self sustaining life is usually filled with a path of addiction, mental illness, extreme emotional distress, lack on interpersonal skills, and a continued submissive behavior (despite how hard we try to cover that up). There is rarely any money available from the trafficker to pay for services needed to help their victims, so this burden lies on the shoulders of those who want to help. These are usually provided by nonprofit services who need funding from you and I; they are struggling for funding to help create more functional and self supporting individuals. The end result of their services will change the lives of these persons and the lives of their children and grandchildren.

When you are trapped in this way of life, you learn to live in a ‘Survive vs Suicide’ mode of thinking. The pain becomes so bad physically and emotionally that you pray they kill you just to put you out of your misery. You hope for a way out and if you run into the arms of another person, you are extremely lucky if that is a kind person who truly wants to keep you safe and learn how to live on your own. More common than not you end of up going straight to the arms of another abuser, usually a domestic relationship that starts off being really kind and your survival habits make you more tolerable of acts of control or degrading remarks. These are dismissed and before you know it, one day they take a swing. The first strike is always the most difficult one, so the second will be much easier and more aggressive. This will take over your relationship and become your existence at least two or three times a week. Your holidays will be taken over by the threat or possibility of violence. You will rarely defend yourself and even less likely to leave because of those few good moments you share. You tell yourself, ‘He does love me. He is good to me most of the time. He just gets angry. If I don’t do this, or I stop doing that, he will stop hitting me. Just so long as he doesn’t leave me alone, doesn’t kick me out, doesn’t cheat on me, doesn’t hurt my kids. This is the way of life for those who have been so violently and violated in the life of trafficking.

How is a person who has grown up in this type of threatening environment and distorted behaviors supposed to choose the right relationships or live a stable everyday life? How are they supposed to learn to associate in common social and professional environments? If we do not ensure funding for shelters and rebuilding services for young and old, victims of family violence, sexual harm, and trafficking, then we cannot just expect them to be self sufficient and become a member of the family, become a parent or a teacher, become a police officer or a social services caseworker without some turmoil and dysfunctional behavior.

Now believe me it is possible for those who have gone through this tragic way of life, especially as children or teens, and then become a parent without any support or family around to help them. We learn to isolate ourselves out of the heavy shame and disgust we carry for our past. We can’t just open our mouths and say; ‘I was forced to have sex with a lot of men from a very young age’. Do you have any idea the level of courage it takes to say these words? If it had happened to you, could you just sit down to dinner and say this to a mother in-law, or an uncle? Could you go see your priest one time and tell him these words? Could you go to a stranger, a doctor, or an employer trying to explain why you’re ill all the time or having so much trouble?

This is why it’s important for survivors of these types of traumatic events seek help. It’s why it’s important to find your voice and help others find their own light. It’s why we need the services of Violence Prevention Center, Hoyleton Youth & Family, DHS, SAVE, Call for Help, PAVE, The Women’s Center, RAINN, ChildHelp, NAASCA, and other leading local and national organizations. All of them continue to put their hearts into the mission of saving lives and rebuilding lives, healing generations every single day. I’m very proud today to say that now we also have Butterfly Dreams Alliance, an incredible team who have joined me in creating a prevention and rebuilding nonprofit service for families & professional education in Southern Illinois.

Today my life has come full circle. I am no longer trapped and praying for death. I am no longer contemplating survive vs suicide. I am 55 years old, I am in the best relationship of my life. I have three beautiful grown amazing children. I have three amazing grandchildren. I have made hundreds of inspiring and supportive friends across the country. We have fought to update and change policies & statutes together. We are creating more known knowledge about the human mind and the human heart in every survivor we encourage along the way.

Today my life is truly free and I am so thankful that I did not miss the dance it has given me. Please help those services in your area and across the country!!!

The everyday beginning steps of Human Trafficking

Thank you #BrittanyJones; Channel 12 News, #KFVS  http://www.kfvs12.com/clip/14043071/march-to-end-human-trafficking-held-in-carbondale

#Torch – Shining a Light on Human Trafficking – SIU Carbondale

Think about that statement for a moment. We are here to ask our friends, neighbors, colleagues, resources, professionals, first responders, care givers, – absorb the power of this horrific statement. This isn’t just an offense busted by FBI  stings and plaguing other countries. This is what you and I see everyday, in communities where the same people do the same things day after day. The beginning steps are the common societal actions and behaviors we have been teaching are acceptable throughout human history. We may not know what the exact list from the experts tells us to look for, but more often than not those first beginning levels of what is and can become human trafficking, enslavement, forced servitude of another human being; regardless of what we want to admit or what we see in the welfare of another person, we need to care enough to intervene early and bring attention to the distress you see in your community. Only rarely do we have the occasion in small communities to be suddenly sold or exploited.

In modern day slavery we don’t just need our justice system ready to take on these offenders and put them away, we need to change our everyday way of thinking about what happens around us. The actions that happen to people we know, people we care about. Not just to our teens and children, but old and young, male and female. If we want any of our social care and justice systems to work, then we have a duty as everyday citizens to take accountability – report offenses that you DO recognize and make certain to do it early. If we do not have educators, medical professionals, law enforcement, neighbors, friends, even family ; those who are the ones most likely to see the signs of distress, then we can not expect to change the possible terrorizing acts which they might be trying to survive in everyday.

You – you are the person who will first see or recognize something that causes alarm.  You have a duty to intervene, to question that person’s welfare, and if you’re unsure take it to an advocate or make some Google searches to understand what signs you are seeing what what it is that might be turning your gut inside out every time you’re around it or see a possible lost soul on the streets, in our businesses, working on our farms, attending our schools, or even when they are coming in for basic mandatory physicals. It’s our time to watch out for the common daily signs of distress.

Understand that I absolutely know what it is like to go through days, weeks, years; waiting, hoping, praying someone would care enough to do something. Someone would believe that I mattered enough as a human being to at least question the multitude of acts and harms they did see almost daily for years. Believe me, I am just one of the millions of adult survivors of these types of daily horrors. When you are inside this type of environment and being dismissed or overlooked by everyone around you, it’s really difficult to believe that you have a voice to ask for help. Young kids, don’t have a clue how to put into words what’s happening until around 16 or so. All they can do is keep trying to get through each day. More often than not – THEIR SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON THEIR SILENCE!!

The common everyday things that happened to me were kind of accepted in Freeburg, just like it is in the rural communities I still see today.  It was just the way we raised our kids and took our rage out on our family. In most communities today, there is always one family the town talks about and judges. My family was that family!!!

There were years that instead of looking at how much they despised my stepfather and what they actually witnessed him doing on a regular basis. Instead of questioning what they witnessed my mother allowing to happen to her little girl, in the condition of her daily needs and care; instead people decided that I should be judged, I should be shamed. Both the adults and the schoolmates condemned and whispered about who I was and the things they heard. They kept their daughters away from our home and refused to let their sons date or hang out with me. In a small community just like what we see in our rural areas everyday; I was that child and teen girl who carried the reputation with boys and adult men by the time I was 13 years old.

It happened at the bar where my mother worked for years. It happened in the private parties with boys I went to school with and who saw me almost everyday. He would arrange it all at our home with a case of beer, giving me solid instructions on how to entice them, then tell him all the gory details when he returned home with my mother. This very known and discussed activity then became private parties late at night in our home, with sometimes 10 or more adult men from the local coalmine. My younger sister trying to sleep in the other room. My mother going in to watch TV in her bedroom; telling me to have a good time as she walked away when his call came in with instructions of what to wear, what to get prepared, even putting the porn movie in the VCR. This happened not because my mother was terrorized or forced to let it happen, but rather because she didn’t want to try and survive with three children on her own, and eventually because she didn’t mind using me as her family caretaker and housekeeper.

It wasn’t just chores we give our kids today. It was every single day and every moment of my day. It wasn’t just the occasional dusting or vacuuming. It was give her a toothbrush to scrub the corners and keep her here busy until I’m ready to send her to bed. Don’t give her a toothbrush or give a damn if she cares for herself at all.

The men got me drunk, the porn was on the television, they passed me around from lap to lap. They got me high, guiding me for this one do this or that one to do that. Around 3 or 4 am, I might be told to go out to the camper on the back of my stepfather’s pickup parked right in front of our house.

Keep in mind we lived in the center of this small town for six consecutive years when his violent reign of terror and the complete neglect of any human kindness was at it’s absolute worst. This type of exploitation, enslavement, sharing, trafficking happened between 11 to 17 before I escaped. He was at that time planning to put me in a trailer, on a private lot, with a new lock and his own private key so we could have ‘our’ parties anytime. I ran the first chance I got; ran into the arms of a man 7 yrs older who beat me, strangled me, almost drowned me, and left me hogtied in a bedroom for 10 hours, dead-bolted in a second floor apartment while he went to work and out for drinks. I’ve had more weapons held to my head than I can count, the first around age nine. Like many from violent homes I rant into the waiting arms of another violent abuser. All with the aide of what I was manipulated with as a child; years of weed and alcohol to cover up the pain. No matter the suffering I must act like I had always been taught; silent, submissive, even protective of my tormentor.

All of the interactions happened for the price of a case beer or perhaps just a couple of glasses at the bar. This was my value, this was the identity that every single person who witnessed the very worst of these offenses unknowingly or knowingly, helped create in just one young girl. Each had their part and in those so easily dismissed and accepted acts they trained a child to become a human being who lived ‘in servitude of others’ until I was about 45 years old.

The young servitude was taught as I grew up to be the only person in our home expected to answer the ring of that little brass bell for years. Constantly, every single day. No wonder my homework was barely done. No wonder I couldn’t concentrate or felt so different, so socially inept around everyone else. No wonder I could barely exist in your world. The only thing I could think about was how to survive the next damn thing that was going to happen.

During these years I was attacked almost daily.  It was so brutally dominating and fearful, that it wasn’t even safe to bathe or take any time to care for myself. For five years I barely took a washcloth to my face, let alone my body.. I was a kid who attended the same school system, walked around in the same small community, who associated with the same people everyday.  I was covered in filth, my front teeth rotted out and broken, my skin covered in sores; ugly infected rashes that have left me scarred and broken with many troubling health conditions today. They saw years of physical violence; bruises across my back and legs from the leather belt he had sliced up to beat me with. Once I got that beating for putting on a pair of my brother’s button up flannel pajamas because I thought they might protect me from him somehow; like a suit of magic armor he wouldn’t be able to touch me. Believe me, I didn’t dare put them on ever again.

So now I ask you; what types of distressful behaviors do you see happening or going on with one of the people or kids you interact with everyday. What do you see on the surface? What do you think might be happening beneath the surface to control that person in such a dominant and cruel fashion? Now let me ask – Why in the hell is it still happening today, everyday.? Not just here in Southern Illinois, but in every little rural and perceived safe community across the country. For thousands – this is everyday life happening in your backyards. There are enslaved, young and old, both male & female; these are the common early steps that become the larger tragedy of human trafficking. There are at risk kids in every apartment building, rich private home, or rundown trailer park. They are trying to endure until they can somehow find a way  to somehow escape and live like everybody else.

Let me remind you; You might be the only one who sees something, or is courageous enough to report something that might first bring attention to any form of those early controlling, neglectful, threatening, servitude acts that happen. We can’t expect our Social Service workers to just walk in and suddenly take action or investigate something, until we make absolutely certain we are reporting it. Take names and numbers, then follow up to make sure they’re doing their job and holding them accountable. Keep reporting and if they still want listen, discuss it with others who witness these acts or who might be able to help them.  Our leading research & health organizations have data on trauma which has been collected for the past ten years. The ones who are responsible for assisting and investigating are just as accountable for their actions and decisions, as you and I are accountable for what we tolerate and teach through our silence.

I beg you, I beg everyone across the country; it’s time to pick ourselves up by the boot-heels and create the society we want our children and grandchildren to grow up in. A society of equality, with true possibility that they can actually succeed in their dreams. To be courageous enough to dream and feel self worthiness. Teach them to believe they actually matter; their life actually matters to the most close knit circle around each and every one of us.

I really want to thank all of you for listening to me here, and the Women’s Center for permitting me to speak at this amazing event. Hopefully you’ll think about everything you’ve felt or heard here today; the empowering energy we have felt together. We really must begin somewhere and this change will take on whatever momentum for community and family wellness that we decide to put into it. We can honestly take accountability and decide whether we will or will not permit harmful and despicable acts among us as a society of incredible human beings. No one deserves this hell for a life. No one should be so easily, casually, or grudgingly dismissed within our communities and closest circles.

When you ask yourself what can I do about Modern Day Slavery, Exploitation, Servitude, Human Slavery, Human Trafficking; please remember to just do something. Look beneath the surface of what you do see. Be the one a shining light on the acts that destroy and cycle through what we see in the common everyday dysfunctions and behaviors that lead our children into danger, our streets filled with crime, a society using deadly drugs and addictions to cover up the pain, mental & physical health problems that might just be our remaining injuries and wounds from the traumas we endured; at least for the ones who actually survive. The ones who aren’t living so isolated and tormented they are driven to complete the acts of suicide, simply because they are suffering but no one is hearing their trapped voices and their rolling silent tears. If we want to be the beginning of a new way, an equal and humane way in our society, then when are we really going to start being the voice of hope and change? Are we going to decide to continue this massive cycle of life altering learned behaviors and distress of others?

Thank you, to everyone who has believed in my voice. You are now my energy and my hope, you are colleagues or resources I depend on to do the very best I can; will those reading this also join us? Today I’m finally starting to believe in my worthiness as a human being. Today I believe in my worthiness of life, without expectation of dominance and servitude.

Be well, Live Free & Really Dream Big because you are the minds and the hearts that will make any possibility of change a reality for the magic that lies within each and every human being on this amazing place called Earth. Always believe anything is possible with you in the active equation of life!!!

 

Trish McKnight

Survivor/Author/Advocate

Butterfly Dreams Alliance NFP

Breese, IL

 

https://butterflydreamsalliance.org/

https://www.facebook.com/butterflydreamsalliance/

 

The truth about child protective services

Good Morning Everyone,
 
I live in Southern Illinois and have been a key voice these past three years in updating our Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes & Trafficking Against Children. In this is a proposal presented and discussed with many of our political officials. The process of the Child Protective Investigation has been going through public destruction amid resignation of Director George Sheldon, Illinois Child Protective Services who stated after a recent toddler death:
“There are significant issues we’re still dealing with and these child deaths are an example of that,” he tells WGN News. “Mistakes were made. There’s no question about that.” Mistakes that may have factored into Semaj’s death include a lack of communication within the department. “There were at least four or five protective investigators that visited that home. But was there communication between them… That’s what we’ve got to deal with.”
Illinois has seen at least five different directors in approximately 6 years and none have been held accountable for the severe lack of investigation and appropriate services, as well as the Federal Guidelines for Requirements to Remove a Child. Parents know how to work this system. Family turn away and feel they can help in other ways or simply do nothing at all. The kids who age out of the system have no idea how to function and continuously find it more and more difficult to find help in life skills and employment to secure their survival. Nothing can be more distressing to a country as a whole than the complete disregard and maltreatment of our nation’s children.
 
For these past three years I’ve been rejected time and again on this issue and updating a system across the country that provides the intervention to keep families together, but most importantly investigates every report thoroughly with every child having the right to have their voice encouraged and supported. No one knows better than that child what is really happening inside their home. It is time to stop silencing endangered children to protect their abusers. The healthy solution is for the parents to undergo required parenting classes, mental health evaluation, find resource that will actually help with housing, employment, education, life skills. It’s time to ensure that all of America’s Children and the children around the world do not have to TELL SEVEN ADULTS ABOUT THEIR ABUSE BEFORE THEY HOPEFULLY FIND ONE WHO WILL LISTEN, BELIEVE THEM, AND HELP THEM.
 
Please see the guidelines and numbers to justify the need for these changes by reviewing the attached documents containing the full proposal and research shared with Illinois Congressmen & State Level Legislative Members. Here you will see it as ‘Trecia Law’ Family Crimes & Terroristic Abuse – I honestly do not care what it’s titled as long as we enforce some of these strategies in helping our children.
 

1) Amend Child Maltreatment Investigation to require reported maltreatment of any person 15 years or younger, in acts of sexual, physical, verbal harm, use of or threat with weapon, drugs, alcohol, exploitation, trafficking, neglecting basic needs of shelter, food, education, medical, dental,or mental health necessities. These reports against young persons shall be completed by a

  • (Three Stage Review Process)
  •      A = Call Intake Recorder
  •      B = Local County Forensic Investigator
  •      C = County Director/Supervisor Final Disposition

2) Begin updated training to understand ‘terroristic trauma’ and the terrorized child victim. ALL FIRST RESPONDERS/MANDATED REPORTERS/FORENSIC INVESTIGATORS or other necessary key professionals who interact with families and children to better assist in spotting a terrorized silenced victim and/or possible trafficked child.

3) Provide recovery support to meet needs of the victim for a period up to 5 years; beginning and ongoing from the investigation or implemented protection of victim. (Education and Recovery focus to assist in self sufficient life skills preparedness, home and parenting awareness, health care and family building blocks.)

4) Public School System education and prevention strategies educating all children within each school system to understand their individual rights to life, liberty and safety, even within their home and family relationships; also provide grades 4 through 12 instructions for reporting violations of another person’s individual rights to be safe. (training to report will aid to reduce school violence, bullying, abuse, gang or family related violence)

5) Engage a Community Response Teamwithin every police department across the country; providing involved education and prevention strategies to better understand Warning Signs & Reporting Guidelines when abuse, violence, trafficking or other types of harm occur within our neighborhoods and families.

**Note: these changes in our prosecutorial and civil remedies are to protect and educate about the types of terroristic personal attacks, specifically against  minor children, without regard to familial, foster, or governing state custody or residence location.

 
The United Nations General Assembly wrote into law; The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 
 
Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
 

We need to ensure that every human being is provided these basic equalities regardless of age, race, religion, economical, geographical, or political status. We’ve had too many generations of our human race destroyed and harmed throughout centuries by acts committed by those closest to them. It is time that we unite as one human race to protect the rights and freedoms of all in our world. If we cannot ensure the wellbeing and healthy freedoms from harm and the fear of harm for our children, then who have we become today? I thought we were supposed to be the smartest species on the planet. The most basic truths have been buried and disregarded so that others become more powerful and walk without guilt or shame for their crimes. It is in our modern day society that we know more than ever before, have a decade of data by national leading health and human services organizations; CDC, National Institute of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, National Child Traumatic Stress Network and many others. We know the ugliness and sorrows for any human being trying to survive each day in these heinous crimes, yet we rarely actually protect and hear our most vulnerable; those too little to fight back, too young to fully understand, too easily controlled and manipulated by those who they depend on for their very life.

We all must continue our great works together. If we are carrying our own agendas then there are no laws or guidelines that will help our human change. These are taught beliefs and behaviors passed down through generations and only by committing ourselves as a more informed and stronger human society can we fully expect for our children to continue learning or living in any other form.
 
I pray all of us here at NAASCA and other leaders around the world will find a way to create this new path for our children.
Respectfully,
Trish McKnight
“Always believe anything is possible with you in the active equation of life” ~~ trish 
Patricia A McKnight

New Direct Email: p.mcknight@charter.net

Midwest Regional Ambassador DirectorNAASCA.org
IL Cert DV & CA Advocate
IL Cert Human Trafficking Trainer
Panel Member DV Offender Education Program of St Clair County
Family Trauma, Child Sexual Abuse & Rural Trafficking Specialist
Mentor/Speaker/Support Resource Provider
 
Author; ‘My Justice
Amazon/Barne’s & Noble/Authorhouse
Ebook, Kindle, Nook, Paperback
 

cropped-bnd11.jpg  It’s been a three year battle here in Illinois, but finally Gov Rauner now has two bills SB189 Sex Crime Against Children Statute of Limitations & SB1842 Involuntary Servitude of a Child & Trafficking in Persons Statute of Limitations updates. Thankfully Rep Jay Hoffman never gave up and stayed determine. Thankfully AG Madigan created update “Hastert Law” Criminal Sexual Abuse & Criminal Sexual Assault of a child. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of these updates. I know it will help many survivors who choose to seek justice.

Going public in your local area to seek justice takes great courage, especially when these offenses are grievous and terroristic. The crucial part is that we are finally recognizing the longterm effect and providing time for the adult person to process what’s happened, put their many shattered pieces back together and then make the best decision for them. Not all have felt relief when facing their childhood offender in the courtroom, it doesn’t change what they did or the way it changed your path, but it should always be the choice of the once victim to decide.

I am a strong, outspoken, determined survivor, National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, Midwest Regional Ambassador; Speaker, Trainer, Mentor, Resource, Researcher and Author. It’s so important we continue to get this news out there. If we cannot make hearing about these crimes, either through news or TV programming; will the victims ever feel like they can come forward and be supported rather than condemned and judged. If we are going to change this learned human behavior against others, against children; we have to be willing to address the issue head on, with the support network ready to heal wounded parents so we can raise healthier children with a more positive family influence.

Right now it is an estimated $150 Billion per year Taxpayer Burden in the lifetime recovery of victims; Education, Employment, Addictions, Medical & Mental Health, Early Disability, Independent Living Challenges. These are the services needed to clean up the mess of a destroyed human being. If we intervene early and provide the appropriate services per the individual and family needs, then we provide a healthier path and a more positive possible individual success; thus drastically lowering the longterm financial burden of recovery. The longer a person lives in a harmful environment the more likely they are to act out against others, use drugs, early pregnancy, state assistance, low level employment. I believe in the quote: “It is more difficult to rebuild a broken adult than it is to raise a healthy child’

Here’s hoping that more education in the Trauma Informed Response & Care; we can empower others to influence victims to stop their own personal cycle from their past trauma and then encourage the communities to provide needed services. As a Human Initiative we can finally make a difference in the historically taught harmful and destructive actions against others, but alone we can only hope to empower a few.

Thank you Representative Jay Hoffman & AG Lisa Madigan for staying determined. Thank you to all the House & Senate leaders who voted to finally update our Statute of Limitations for these offenses. It will not do anything for my case, but I’m certain it will assist many others just by giving them a chance to cope through all that’s happened. Finally we are announcing to those who have abused or trafficked a child; you can be brought to justice at any time; states across the country are updating their statutes and how they prosecute these heinous crimes against children.

Rep Jay Hoffman Press Release SB1842 – Involuntary Servitude of a Child & Trafficking in Persons…….

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 21, 2017 State Rep. Jay Hoffman
618-416-7407

Hoffman Passes Legislation to Crack Down on Human Trafficking of Minors

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Under legislation passed by state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, individuals suspected human traffickers will no longer be able to evade prosecution in cases involving minors due to a technicality in the law.

“Many victims of human trafficking do not have the support structures intact to be able to seek prosecution within a year of turning 18, putting them at an extreme disadvantage,” Hoffman said. “To think that the criminals who commit these horrible acts can get off due to a technicality in the law is unconscionable.”

Hoffman’s measure, Senate Bill 1842, increases the amount of time that a prosecutor has to bring charges against the perpetrator of these heinous crimes. Under current law, prosecutors only have one year after they turn 18 to file charges, Hoffman’s legislation increases that to 25 years.

“The children who are victims of these crimes will deal with a lifetime of trauma and suffering,” said Patricia McKnight, child trafficking survivor and Midwest Regional Director with the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse. “We need to be doing everything we can to make sure victims see the perpetrators of these heinous crimes brought to justice and this proposal will help make that happen.”

Senate Bill 1842 passed the House and the Senate is currently waiting to be signed into law by the governor.

###

Patricia A McKnight
NAASCA.org

There must be something we learn from our past…..

Permit a few moments please. You will find all of my contact information below in the signature area of this email if you decide to speak with me, which of course I hope you do.
For three years I’ve been meeting with, speaking to, collaborating via email, and gaining support through speaking venues; encouraging our legislators in Illinois to update our Statute of Limitations for Sex Crimes Against Children & Human Trafficking. Sadly in our rather rural areas family members are usually the ones who share the kids with others in what is often just random private parties at their house or at the homes of others. It happens everyday, but we turn our heads and ignore the deep sorrow and trauma.
Along with this nightmare is also the blatant disregard which can often be horrific neglect, emotional trauma, threats, what I often refer to as ‘terroristic’ actions. These are used in both domestic violence situations to keep victims trapped in the abusers control, but more often than not; these acts are the main reason why kids will remain silent and endure the nightmares of home. Where will they go and what will happen if they say something or tell someone? This is their home, this is their family, this is all they know; this is their ‘normal’.
I am really happy to say that as of yesterday, Illinois Statute of Limitations – Criminal Sexual Abuse & Criminal Sexual Assault of a Child was heard under Senate Bill #SB189, which I’m very happy to share was voted unanimously by Senate Judiciary Committee. House Bill #HB3629 Human Trafficking of Victims Under 18, is now approved by the Senate as #SB840 and Rep Jay Hoffman has picked it up in the Illinois House Assembly to move forward as a paragraph attachment to #SB189. HOwever they do it, let’s get it moving forward Illinois. Still, it’s a bit frustrating that even though I’ve been using all of my data on statistics research and psych impact of ‘terroristic trauma’; to create and encourage our legislative representatives, from the House to Congress to the White House; yet not a single person has returned my call about information or updates for what was originally #HB3629.
There must be something of value in this story. There must be something we can learn from our past. As we teach about bullying and shaming; this is disregard of what is destroying lives and sending people down a very dark path in life. I believe if we really want to help our country and our world recover from the many tragedies that strike in our communities everyday; we must first pay attention to those closest to us and acknowledge our responsibility to help them by using the tools and knowledge we have available today.
It’s a huge tragedy when it takes a death of a child or a near death to gain media attention. I’m asking you to please view the attached video and help me get this message out there. I’ve been trying for three years in our legislative area. I’ve been a certified Illinois advocate since 2014; I’ve been an active online & personal mentor/assistant for victims & survivors since 2010. Please help, this is something that CANNOT be accomplished by just one person, just one community, just one legislator. This must be a Human Initiative because Every Life Matters!!!
My kindest regards,
Patricia ‘Trish’ McKnight
Phone: 618.304.7438
Email: p.mcknight@charter.net
Cert DV & CA Advocate – Illinois
Cert Human Trafficking Trainer
Speaker/Author/Mentor/Survivor
Your Voice Radio Network
Author: ‘My Justice’